One book leads to another...

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Blue Moon Serenade

Roger, my northern squirrel-friend was quite perturbed by the backhoe and refused to come down from the neighbor’s tree for a visit the entire time our fence was being built.  He did, however, throw a few pinecones ;-)  I guess you can tell we’ve been to the cabin, and while the mighty oaks are thriving nicely, the aspens once again shimmer in the wind, and in the sway of the lofty pines is the distinctive sound of ocean waves, enjoyment was marred only by the brutal head cold which we shared, one by one, the entire six days we were there. Incidentally, I don’t recommend watching people work, not when it takes two hours to go and get whatever they forgot or need to replace – three times a day! It was frustratingly slow-going, and my girls practically tore up the flooring, wanting to get outside.  I’m considering the feasibility of apprising Guinness book of the vast amount of tissues we went through! Especially since the bird that sings his little heart out at three in the morning is a new discovery for me alone, and is, in fact, well known throughout the mountain community (shucks).  It’s a Northern mockingbird, adept at mimicking daytime songbirds and apparently prone to all night serenades. He is pitch black in color, which explains why I couldn’t see him – even beneath a glorious Blue moon. Did anyone else see that?  Other than that, we made it home; safe and sound, to a flooded kitchen - due to a water leak in the icemaker.  Sometimes we travel with gremlins ;-)

Before I left, I read a terrific post by Stephanie Faris with guest author Elizabeth Seckman about a place with a most unusual name and a fascinating origin. Then, for whatever reason, the theme itself began to simmer. 

Knockemstiff, Ohio for example, is the scant remains of a once rough-and-tumble village located in northeastern Ross county; haphazardly strewn around the remnants of a rural intersection.  One of only two main roads now ends in dirt and location signs are not replaced because “the residents already know where they are, and not many strangers pass through.” ~ Donald Ray Pollock
But if you go, you’re liable to hear the screams of a long-ago suicide echoing from below the cliffs at Devil’s Leap as a cigarette-smoking specter lingers in the mists of a dip in the road called Foggymoore.  If you care to wander the hollows at night, you might encounter the mournful wails of the beautiful Lindy Sue, whose life was taken too soon on the bridge over Paint creek. And it’s not so much Donald’s pond, but the ancient souls of the long forgotten cemetery behind it that just might quicken your pulse.

Though the word itself is widely known as slang for moonshine, a popular belief is that the town acquired the name when two women fought over a man in front of the church, and the preacher suggested that instead of fighting each other, they should go after the man and “Knock em’ stiff”!

Happy Trails!

Have you ever had a ‘gremlin’ vacation? Does your town have an unusual name?


  1. Hi, dear Diedre!

    I can relate to your Blue Moon Serenade. Mrs. Shady and I situated our house in a woodsy area so that we would be close to nature and enjoy encounters with various types of wildlife. (Be careful what you wish for.) A whip-poor-will took up residence near our house and every night for a couple of years the bird serenaded us with his distinctive and maddening call. Sleep was a scarce commodity.

    Mrs. Shady and I specialize in gremlin vacations. One year we flew to North Carolina where she was to be interviewed for a job. We were invited out to dinner at a fancy restaurant by the man who was to her boss. As I was walking across the parking lot toward the entrance, a gel insole in one of my shoes burst and I had to spend the next two hours having dinner with a group of strangers with the unpleasant sensation of a soggy sock. On that same trip, Mrs. Shady stumbled over a curb and fell flat on her face. As we walked across the hotel lobby, her sweater got caught in the branch of the large Christmas tree and, without her knowing, the evergreen began to follow her across the lobby toward the elevator! On that same trip we were driving our rental car down the highway at high speed when we ran over a large crumpled hunk of aluminum that had somehow wound up in the center of our lane. The metal became lodged under the car and sparks flew as it was dragged a quarter mile on the pavement until we could get the vehicle safely off the road to a stop. We took those four mishaps as omens and Mrs. Shady turned down the job. :)

    Have a wonderful weekend, dear friend Diedre!

  2. Hi Shady!
    Oh my dawgs! I hope you don't mind that I chuckled a little ;-) Bless Mrs.Shady's heart, I can't blame her for skipping the job! You know, the trip you describe pretty much qualifies as what we call "one from hell" around here. We once picked the wrong (Spring break) weekend to camp on the beach in Mexico when Sweet Pea brought along the chicken pox, it was stifling hot and elbow-room only on the increasingly rowdy beach and then someone siphoned our gas while we slept! We never again went to Mexico on a holiday weekend.On a lighter note, our Jamaica trip was much more pleasant:-)
    I've never heard the call of a Whip-poor-will, but now I'm curious - just not a night ;-)
    Wishing you a week of pleasant surprises, my friend!

    1. I giggled, too, when I read the story in your reply. Sorry! :)

      The call of the whip-poor-will sounds just like the name. The bird keeps repeating its own name every few seconds all night long like so:


      (repeat a gazillion times :)

  3. I can just picture that squirrel throwing pine cones! ☺ What a bummer to be sick on your vacation. Having a noisy bird keep you awake must have made things even worse! And then to come home to a flood? It's good you've retained a sense of humour about it. Knockemstiff is a great name for a town and the ghost stories make it even more interesting. Ever been to Fucking, Austria? ☺ Click HERE for more info.

    1. Hi Debbie!
      Yeah, we learned long ago to roll with the punches because the sun is still gonna shine tomorrow ;-)

      Ha! I'll be dinged, I hadn't ever heard of that place. But what a hoot! :-) That the sign is always getting stolen cracks me up, what a trophy for a garage wall! Thanks for sharing that :-)

  4. Oh THAT's a spooky story! So sorry to hear about your icemaker leak. I know some people turn off the water to the house when they go on vacation...but would that have helped in this case? I always forget to do it, either way!

    There's something called "dark tourism," where people visit spooky locations or scenes of past murders on vacation. I didn't know there was a name for it, but we always do just that. I love hearing the grim history behind a place for some reason!

    1. Hi Stephanie!
      You know, we always turn off the water to the cabin - in case it freezes. We just never thought of it at Shadow Roc since freezing is near impossible ;-)

      Dark Tourism. Eesh, it makes us sound so morbid. A ghost town fanatic as I am, I hadn't considered that these ghosts I love were, indeed, murdered at one point. Like you, I love these kinds of adventures, whether by design or happenstance, I become so enthralled with the backstories that it often takes a bit of sleeve-tugging to pull me out :-) Have a terrific week!


Any thoughts? Join the conversation, comments welcome here!